How CIOs Can Get the Most ROI From Digital Transformation Budgets

How CIOs Can Get the Most ROI From Digital Transformation Budgets

A recent survey of business leaders revealed that more than half of the decision-makers who responded felt their budget for digital transformation in the coming year was not enough. And even though 55% of their digital transformation budgets ranged from $500,000 to $5 million, their previous investments were not having the impact they expected. This illustrates that throwing new technology at a problem does not always meet business expectations. Creating a carefully planned IT budget strategy can be difficult when you’re trying to balance priorities across different departments with long-term goals. CIOs must work with CFOs and CEOs – and, really, all stakeholders – to ensure they’re investing precious dollars in the right areas and getting the biggest return on their investment.

While technology is quickly changing the nature of business, its investment processes haven’t always maintained the same rate of progress. CIOs need to rethink technology budgeting, how to get the most ROI from it and prioritize their digital investments. Here are three ways to get the most ROI from your budget.


Evaluate current systems to prioritize next steps
It seems companies have been automating everything their hands can touch under the guise of digital transformation. Many automation teams have digitized processes without fixing them first, knowing the impact across the organization, or if they met key performance indicators. Many leaders threw best practices out the window to maintain business continuity, meet new remote work needs, or for fear of being disrupted.

One of the most important factors of successful IT budget planning is not spending the most money but spending it wisely. CIOs need to perform ongoing assessments to have an accurate picture of existing processes and identify where investments can deliver the greatest return. Having this pragmatic view and taking a step back can truly help you understand how your business is operating today and where it’s underperforming or where there are opportunities for optimized performance. Once you understand your processes and how they’re operating, you can establish a baseline and prioritize an efficient automation strategy.


Be aware of hidden costs
There can be hidden expenses during digital transformation projects, especially when it comes to robotic process automation (RPA). Be cautious of focusing internal resources and automation initiatives around processes that are interesting to automate rather than those that are more impactful to downstream processes. Process intelligence has become a strategic tool for aiding the C-suite in understanding where automation budget investments can offer the highest returns within digital transformation initiatives.

Also, understand the limitations of some tools. RPA, for example, needs AI skills to understand the content and context from documents feeding its platforms. The manual resources to correct and monitor bots may end up costing more than expected. Many inefficiencies today are a derivative of poor focus over poor execution.


Don’t get caught in the hype
Some tech evangelists, including myself, may seem underwhelmed about technologies hyped to be an end-all to digital transformation. If you understand and use them for what they can truly accomplish, then you’ll get the return you’re expecting. The goal is to understand the problems you’re trying to solve, and make sure you have the right mix of solutions for the job, whether it’s RPA, intelligent document processing, process mining, data analytics, low-code platforms, or conversational AI platforms. Most importantly, select best-in-breed partners who will be a champion of your business goals.

Lastly remember, AI is a broad term that encompasses many different technologies like machine learning (ML), computer vision, and natural language processing (NLP). Some vendors use these concepts interchangeably when they’re not. Understanding this helps you wrap your head around AI and pull back the curtain to see individual tools with real capabilities, not just a singular magical technology that fits all.


About Anthony Macciola
Chief Innovation Officer, ABBYY

North Carolina, USA

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Anthony Macciola is a seasoned veteran of the tech industry, with over 30 years of experience in software, hardware, and algorithm development. He joined ABBYY’s Executive Management Team as Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) in October 2017. In this role, Anthony formulates ABBYY’s market-focused vision and strategy for driving innovation and develop new product concepts and evangelize strategic marketing strategies. He holds over 45 patents in the areas of mobility, text analytics, image processing, and process automation.